A week after dismantling Highland Park on the road, the Manhattan High football team made quick work of the Topeka West Chargers on homecoming night in Manhattan.
After cruising to a 48-0 halftime lead, Manhattan breezed past Topeka West on Friday night at Bishop Stadium, winning in a shutout, 76-0.
Manhattan was dominant all night, but got help from the Chargers to the tune of six turnovers, including two interceptions returned for touchdowns and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Manhattan also got two scores on special teams.
“I’m proud of my boys,” Manhattan coach Joe Schartz said. “I wanted them to play hard for four quarters, and they did that tonight in all three phases of the game. We got a number of young kids in the game, and they performed well, too.”
What started as a rough game for Topeka West only got worse in the second half, as sloppy turnovers kept building Manhattan’s lead.
Of its 11 touchdowns, Manhattan only scored six on offense. The others came on defense and special teams, as the Indians put the hurt on the Chargers in all three phases of the game.
The defense led the way again, posting four more quarters of shutout football while scoring a trio of touchdowns.
“I was pleased with our defense,” Schartz said. “They scored points and I felt like Topeka West had a pretty good passing attack and we were able to cover their receivers, which was nice to see. We were also able to pressure the quarterback and create turnovers — the defense did a nice job.”
Offensively, the Indians got things going and made some improvements up front. The Indians totaled 271 yards and averaged 7.3 yards per carry on the night.
“I think we executed better up front on the offensive line, and that’s been a goal of ours,” Schartz said. “I was pleased to see that.”
Quarterback Kellen Myers finished the game with 126 yards and a touchdown through the air. Five different running backs scored touchdowns for the Indians, with Chris Martin accumulating the most yards with 74 on five carries. Henry Bieber had 60 yards on six carries.
The only complaint Schartz had after the game was in his coverage units on special teams.
“The special teams, once again did a nice job,” Schartz said. “I’m a little disappointed with our kickoff (coverage) team, they had a good kickoff return and they got good field position on us from time to time.”
Manhattan (4-1, 3-0 Centennial) took control from the opening snap, literally.
Bret Fehr took the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown to give the Indians a 7-0 lead. On West’s first possession, Darian Taylor picked off West quarterback Joshua Reynolds for a 50-yard score to give the Indians a 14-point lead with 9:30 to play in the first quarter.
Manhattan would score twice more in the first quarter alone, the first on a 14-yard run by Taylor and the second on a 25-yard scamper by Martin.
In the second quarter, the Indians got a 5-yard touchdown from Ethan Fabrizius on his first carry of the season, with Bieber adding a 2-yard touchdown.
Manhattan practiced its two-minute offense at the end of the half, marching 63 yards in five plays, capped by a 4-yard pass from Myers to Fabrizius to give the Indians a 48-0 halftime lead.
Fabrizius typically sees time on offense only in Manhattan’s jumbo package, but said it was fun to get the ball offensively.
“It was nice to get in there and run the ball a little bit, go out for a route and catch a pass,” Fabrizius said. “I’m a backup, but then we have that double-tight T, that jumbo package, just to pick up yards when we really need them, and stuff and we have that pass out of it that catches teams off guard, but otherwise I’m just a backup.”
After half, Manhattan slowed down its scoring as much as it could, but Topeka West continued to make costly mistakes that went the other way for touchdowns.
In the third quarter, Taylor caught his second interception and took it 61 yards for his second defensive touchdown. Taylor attributed both his defensive scores to good scouting by coaches.
“It’s just coaching and reps all week long,” Taylor said. “We’ve got a good scouting report and everything, just doing what we do. A good week of practice and then we came out here and do the same thing we’ve done all week. We had a good scout look from the underclassmen, too.”
Later in the quarter, Manhattan’s Nadal Abudayyeh blocked the Chargers’ punt and Joe Hall landed on it in the end zone for another special teams score.
In the fourth, sophomore John Chen scored a 2-yard touchdown after the JV took over. Junior Luke Wuri scored the game’s final points on an 8-yard scoop and score on a bad snap by Topeka West deep in its own territory.
Fabrizius said the shutout win is something the team can build on, especially as a defense.
“We just need to keep forcing fumbles and recovering them, getting picks and breaking on the ball,” he said. “Just team defense with everyone pitching in and doing their part.”
Taylor said the team was unhappy after its Week 1 loss, but has been working hard to keep things on the right track since.
“The first week was tough and all, but after that we’ve really bounced back, playing with emotion and really playing hard, every play for four quarters,” Taylor said. “I’m really proud of everybody. We’ve put in a lot of work and good things are happening.”
Taylor said the team can use the last two games to build confidence heading into district games in two weeks.
“Last year, we used these games as a springboard and had a good start to districts,” Taylor said. “So hopefully we can do that again this year.”
The team gets one more league game before the games really start to count, traveling to Shawnee Heights.
“Next week is the next step in our journey and Shawnee Heights is a quality opponent,” Schartz said. “We’ll have to continue to work very hard to perform well in that game.”